For much of the past century, the task of representing Ireland to the world’s cinemagoers lay in the hands of foreign filmmakers. Prettified images of thatched cottages and wayward village folk dominated the repertoire of cinematic Irishness and obscured the real Ireland from international audiences. In more recent years, indigenous Irish filmmakers have risen to the challenge of responding to those images, of creating new and more authentic representations of Ireland and the Irish on screen. Now in its fourth year The Boston Irish Film Festival showcases the very best of this new cinema, offering Boston-area audiences a unique opportunity to sample films they might not otherwise see. For further details, please visit the festival website at www.irishfilmfestival.com or contact director Peter Flynn at 413-253-5414.
For their assistance with this year’s event, The Boston Irish Film Festival would like to thank Metropolitian Films, BBC Northern Ireland, Hummingbird Productions, Emdee Productions, Zanzibar Productions, Brown Bag Films, Subotica Entertainment Ltd., Samson Films, Paradox Films, Northland Broadcast, The Irish Film Board, Sunnivan O’Flynn and the Irish Film Archive, and Derry O’Brien at Network Ireland Television.
April 26 (Friday) 7 pm
Directed by Cathal Gaffney
Ireland 2001, video, color, 4 min.
This disarming, award-winning animated short, which the Irish Times called a "five-minute masterpiece," gives new life to a 1960s audio tape recording of a Dublin schoolgirl fancifully recounting of the "shocking holy" story of John the Baptist.
Directed by Declan Lowney
Ireland 2001, 35mm, color, 100 min.
With Brendan Gleeson, Amanda Donohoe, Adrian Dunbar
After a bad beating, TV chief and Belfast celebrity Harry McKee (Gleeson, The General) slips into a temporary coma and loses all recollection of the past twenty-five years of his life. As it happens, these years were not well spent, and Harry, believing himself to be eighteen again, is offered the chance of starting over and making amends with his estranged wife and family. A homicidal maniac bent on murdering Harry live on the air rounds out this romantic comedy and a sharp satire of TV celebrity, written by acclaimed novelist and screenwriter Colin Bateman.
April 27 (Saturday) 2 pm
Directed by Philip King
Ireland 2001, video, color, 90 min.
With Bono, Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Ani DiFranco
An exploration of the role of protest songs in the fight for civil and religious liberties around the globe, this wide-ranging documentary draws comparisons between the folk music of Ireland, South Africa, Chile, and elsewhere. A diverse roster of artists from Bono to Pete Seeger discuss the political context of resistance songs and give their own renditions of many of the most famous, including "Do Re Mi" and U2’s "Please."
April 27 (Saturday) 4 pm
Directed by Shimmy Marcus
Ireland 2000, video, color, 72 min.
With Aidan Walsh, Gerry Ryan, Dave Fanning
Aidan Walsh was a flash-in-the-pan, one-hit-wonder, whose cacophonous rendition of the "Hokey Cokey" in 1987 made heads turn and critics howl. But Walsh’s endearing gusto and self-aggrandizing ballyhoo made him a superstar of Bono-esque proportions, if only for a moment. Director Shimmy Marcus approaches his subject objectively and lets Walsh’s story—a rags to riches tale of an orphaned child’s search for love and acceptance—unfold with unforced candor and poignancy.
April 27 (Saturday) 6 pm
Directed by Tom Collins
Ireland 2001, video, color, 72 min.
With Fergal Sharkey, Eamonn McCann, John Peel
In the late 1980s, Derry rock band The Undertones rocketed to the top of the British charts with a string of hits, beginning with the exuberant youth anthem "Teenage Kicks." That all five band members had come from the war-torn ghettos of the Catholic "Bogside" made their success seem miraculous. But The Undertones were not concerned with making political statements and instead channeled the vibrant currents of a youth culture more attuned to teenage angst than civil and religious liberties. Director Collins captures the innocence of their rebellion as well as the liberating pulse of their music.
April 27 (Saturday) 7:30 pm
Directed by Shimmy Marcus
Ireland 2001, video, color, 3 min.
Ivor is having trouble sleeping. This masterwork of short surrealism, by Aidan Walsh director Shimmy Marcus, takes us into his dreams to explains why.
Directed by Goran Paskaljevik
Ireland 2001, 35mm, color, 90 min.
With Colm Meaney, Cillian Murphy, Adrian Dunbar
Grieving over the violent deaths of his wife and son and tormented by nightmares about being turned into a tree that is ultimately chopped down to make coffins, Harry settles upon George, the local matchmaker, as the target of his rage. But Harry’s efforts to destroy his enemy ultimately fail as his obsessions quite literally transform him into a tree. Serbian director Paskaljevik (The Powder Keg, Someone Else’s America) has crafted an absurdist parable with obvious echoes of the centuries-long nationalist struggles in Ireland and Serbia. How Harry Became a Tree is the director’s caustic take on how hatred can corrupt even the most genuine of grievances.
April 27 (Saturday) 9:30 pm
Directed by Sarah Share
Ireland 2001, video, color, 93 min.
With Shane McGowan, Nick Cave, Sinead O’Connor
Sarah Share’s revealing documentary of The Pogues’s lead singer (and Ireland’s premier bad boy) Shane McGowan is a deeply felt portrait of a talent in the unmaking. Ravaged from years of alcoholism and drug abuse, McGowan rambles incoherently through most of the interviews he grants here. Share’s unflinching camera, however, frequently captures the singer in moments of rare lucidity and candor: however fleetingly, we see the fearless and passionate troubadour before his fall, a singular and fiery talent whose punk-rock-folk fusion reinvigorated Irish music for a whole new generation.
April 28 (Sunday) 2 pm
Directed by Jennifer Keegan
Ireland 2001, video, color, 16 min.
With Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Bradley
A chance encounter on a Dublin train between a woman and a blind man (played with remarkable range by Brendan Gleeson) takes a nightmarish turn in this taut psychological drama.
Directed by Audrey O’Reilly
Ireland 2001, video, color, 15 min.
With Sean McGinley, Brid Ni Neachtain
A charming comedy about a taken-for-granted housewife who one day resolves to make a stand by breaking the world’s record for longest time spent living up in a tree.
Directed by Anne Crilly
Ireland 2001, video, color, 26 min.
With Francis Quinn, Kevin McCallion
This moving and beautifully photographed drama about the agony of mourning draws parallels between the experiences of the families of the "Disappeared" in Northern Ireland and of the women whose unbaptised children were refused last rites.
Directed by Paul Mercier
Ireland 2001, video, color, 18 min.
With Liam Carney, David Herlihy, Dawn Bradfield
This eccentric satire is set in the Irish-speaking Gaeltacht region of Connemara, where an ancient well becomes the focus of the local community’s conflict over language, identity, and cultural beliefs.
Directed by Dearbhla Walsh
Ireland 2001, video, color, 23 min.
With Helen Norton, Aidan Kelly
This beautiful and haunting film about the power of faith and magic follows a group of passengers who board a boat to view the fabled dolphin Dillusc, whose magical powers are reputed to heal the sick. When the creature is proven not to exist, a mutiny takes place against the boat’s unscrupulous captain.
The five short films presented here were co-financed by the Irish Film Board and Irish-language TV broadcaster TG4.
April 28 (Sunday) 3 pm
Directed by Alan Gilsenan
Ireland 2001, video, color, 11 min.
With Ger Carey, Karen Bryson, Sean Lawlor
A long-distance truck driver carrying dangerous chemicals begins to suspect that he is also carrying stowaways. This tense and visceral film was winner of the audience award for best Irish short at this year’s Cork Film Festival.
Directed by Harry Bradbeer
Ireland 2001, 35mm, color, 75 min.
With Colum Convey, Stuart Graham, Patrick O’Kane
Set during the paramilitary ceasefire of the mid-1990s, this hard-biting drama focuses on a group of young loyalists, groomed for fighting, who must now put away their weapons and accustom themselves to peace. The transition is not an easy one as each member struggles with the loss of power and authority and the growing feeling of having been betrayed by political leaders. This tough and penetrating examination of paramilitarism put on hold was scripted by acclaimed Northern playwright Gary Mitchell.
April 28 (Sunday) 4 pm
This collection of thirteen highly acclaimed animated shorts produced in Ireland over the last two years includes the hilarious claymation film Paddy, a clever satire of Irish stereotypes; the award winning Last Elk, a hauntingly beautiful film about the passing of Ireland’s magnificent elks; the computer-animated comedy Angelic Organ; and an encore screening of the charming Give Up Yer Aul Sins. The films were funded by RTE, the Irish Film Board, the Arts Council, and the Northern Ireland Film Commission as part of the Frameworks Animation Scheme. Program length 106 minutes.
April 28 (Sunday) 5 pm
Directed by Brian Tucker and Ronan Carr
Ireland 2000, video, color, 20 min.
With Ronan Carr, Ronan Leahy, Simon Delaney
Liberal borrowings from the American film-noir genre are embellished with distinctly Irish surrealism as hard-boiled detective Onan Waits (writer and co-director Carr) investigates the murders of celebrity impersonators in the North Dublin suburb of Coolock. Chief among the film’s many guilty pleasures is a less than polite encounter between Brendan Behan and James Joyce and an irate Jesus who proclaims: "If you see Elvis, you tell him I’m the real king!"
Directed by Dudi Appleton
Ireland 2001, 35mm, color, 90 min.
With Kris Marshall, James Nesbitt, Bronagh Gallagher
A sex-comedy that harks back in style and theme to early Almodovar (Irish masculinity on the verge of a nervous breakdown, if you will), this Northern Ireland debut feature blends social and political commentary with fluffy bedroom farce. Eamonn Manley is the timid employee of a dating agency whose unusually high fertility makes him a target of wannabe mothers everywhere. Soon his services are being sought by local loyalists, who see in him the potential to revive the North’s dwindling Protestant population. All of this, of course, proves highly taxing for the put-upon Eamonn, whose only ambition in life is to find true love and settle down.
April 28 (Sunday) 9 pm - Director David Caffrey in Person
Closing Night - all seats $10
Pre-film Reception at 8 pm
Directed by David Caffrey
Ireland/Canada 2001, 35mm, color, 106 min.
With Robbie Coltrane, Brenda Blethyn, Dan Ackroyd
A genuine rarity in Irish cinema, this whimsical work is a surreal cross between the Ealing comedies of the 1940s and the more outlandish work of the Coen Brothers. The story begins when Brendan (Coltrane), a luckless Dublin gambler who has squandered away his daughter’s tuition money, discovers a 200-year-old aborigine head with the uncanny ability to pick winning racehorses. Complications ensue as Brandan’s sudden winning streak attracts the unwanted attentions of local mobsters and the Australian government. David Caffrey (Divorcing Jack) employs a stellar cast of British, American, and Irish talent to tackle the film’s absurdities with breakneck abandon and offbeat charm.